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In hopes of keeping kids' attention, social engineering films would often use supernatural elements to make their points. In this film, we see a magic talking mirror that reflects bratty kids as clowns. Most of the misbehaving kids understand how their behavior is disruptive and make amends. Surprisingly, one kid doesnt care if he is a "clown" and continues being a jerk probably for the rest of his life.
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Creative Commons license: Public Domain
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Laurie was way cooler before...now she just blends in with all the other boring kids:(
Subject: A shura, a demon who shall love only himself
The asian kid reminds me of my favourite cartoon character. Hell, if he dyed his hair red and got a tattoo, he'd even look like the character.
Balto Rosca -
Subject: Adult Swim!
Cartoon Network's Adult Swim just began utilizing scenes from this film in their rotation of commercial 'bumps'...with digitally inserted images of a CGI 'Frylock' character from 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force', thus making the creepy images even MORE creepy!
Subject: Self-improvement can be achieved in a matter of seconds...
'I promise I'll never hurt, cheat or lie in my life again' says a girl of... nine? Ten?
The mirror should have asked for it in writing!
Subject: Mirrors left me practically speechless.
This film is interesting as a commentary on the culture of the time, but it's also pretty sad and horrifying.
Telling the depressed kid he needs to cheer up or people won't like him is just plain rotten. Make the kid feel worse about his behavior and that'll make him better? Unlikely. No one LIKES being depressed. There's probably a reason he's down.
The mean and selfish girl.. You think she'll really 'become nice' or will she just learn how to hide her actions better? Bonus fail for the gender stereotype BTW.
Sadly, the only kid I come out of this thinking is marginally better off is the bully. He's at least confident in his identity and assertive about who he is. It may come back to haunt him later in life or maybe he knows his strengths and assets and he'll find a place for himself.
Subject: The one who did not change...
He grew up to get hired on Saturday Night Live and became a popular young commedian. He made several movies and then died of a drug overdose at the age of 32.
The other clowns who did change were very sad when he died because they were big fans of the commedian.
robin luke -
Subject: ...and some people never learn.
I am a middle aged man and I see that some people never learn. Yay!!!!......for the ones that do!
Subject: Something's wrong here
The thing that I hated about movies like this growing up, is that they do not consider the precipitating factors of the individuals portrayed in the film. They only reflect the propaganda of the film maker. In this case, it seems that the school system's mantra is that kids should only reflect the behaviors and attitudes that cause the teachers the least amount of work or frustration. They portray the children as deliberate miscreants who choose to misbehave, and that simply willing oneself to "sit up straight, listen to the teacher, and interact as expected" will modify their behavior. It does not take into account the problems and issues the children may be experiencing that these behaviors are symptoms of.
Having spent 9 years working in adolescent crisis and psychiatric rehab facilities, I have seen that decent loving children can be turned into what may seem like monsters by and through abuse, neglect, and other external influences.
Having grown up in that era, and having watched many of these films myself, I have always been disappointed in the system's hypocritical and narrow minded point of view. I know first hand how a child may be trying to reach out and seek help, but are turned away and ignored because of lack of interest or knowledge on the system's part, and the assumption that the child is willfully disobedient or bad. I also know that in those days, and perhaps still today, the system empowered with teaching and edifying these children find it hard that these children are capable of intellectual and independent thought, concepts and ideas. And that through the fostering of one’s special skills or talents they can greatly improve the value of that child’s worth in their own eyes and in the eyes of society. Maybe that is just too much to expect of a system that is under paid and under staffed.
I think that the film whitewashes the faces of the children’s true issues and problems with a blanket assumption that their behavior is willful and deliberate, and ignores the potentially dangerous underlying issues that may be causing the symptomatic behaviors. The use of the magic mirror to encourage the children to reject their internal issues and conform to society’s expectations is currently reinforced in the media today, and is perpetuated in how things are sold... “do this or buy that so that you look better, feel better, and do better..at least as far as everyone else is concerned.”
That’s how I feel about it anyway.
Subject: If Mirrors Could Speak
The three characters in the movie represent three distinct crises for an educational system that promotes an ideology purporting two potentially conflicting claims: 1)education (and all government institutions) offers the resources by which individuals can fulfill their potential to become happy (thus individuals should see identify with these institutions not out of altruism but out of self-interest) 2)education is a means of democratic socialization and every individual must submit to the "leveling" of the ego that is citizenship, in which we become abstract legal entities, bearers of rights, each interchangeable with the other, our individualities effaced. The practice of this ideology, though, makes clear that (1) (the promise of individual happiness) is subordinate to the (2) (the demand for social conformity); individual happiness can in fact be fulfilled but only to the extent that the pursuit of happiness is exercised within a narrow range of allowable expression. Nor could it be otherwise in a democracy. The movie is pernicious not to the extent that it is trying to socially engineer kids to submit to (2) but to the extent that the film does not allow for an expression of difference - of individiual will and the utter lack of conformity practiced by the three clowns before they submit (or fail to submit). Of course if they don't submit they will be unhappy, but the film is pernicious to the extent that it doesn't even give their pre-sumbitting selves expression. Instead, the film masks (literally and figuratively) the identity of the three children and ensures that they have submitted even before the narrative has started (the mirror does not signal the need for change nor does it reveal so much what they look like to others as much as it reveals the power that the film itself, produced by Barr films in 1976, is trying to claim for itself). It accomplishes this by stripping the three clowns of a consistent position of non-conformity: the problem of the sad clown is not that he is putting on an image that he hopes the other kids are accepting (the mirror asks him, "is this how you want other people to see you" and he responds in horror, no, or something to that effect). The problem is that he has rejected the very terms of conformity, in which he can neither express his individuality nor conform to the demands of this social institution. His melancholy is not an active "face" he is presenting to others, but is rather his default position. The device of the mask conceals that he has a consistent identity and the warping of his real position by the film is merely an extension of the sight gag by the writers of the film. Something similar is going on with the other two characters but this is already way too long.
Subject: i know george...
yes, george does grow up to be some annoying punk kid and bratty adult. he was in my college math class and he's as big of a bozo as ever. :)
Subject: Classic Progressive 1970s Edu-Film
I was in elementary school in the 1970s, and I saw many films like this in class. Back then, the public education system in America was very progressive. Quite a few educational films dealt with mental health issues like emotions and self esteem, in addition to physical health and safety and the standard educational fare - science, history, math, etc.
The concept behind If Mirrors Could Speak is a brilliant one - a great application of introspective psychology. A talking mirror shows some troubled kids their reflections as clowns, then helps them help themselves by coming to terms with their behavior and emotions in order to build a positive self image.
One by one, the kids' clown faces disappear as their positive true selves come out. Of course, one kid, George, is not moved by his reflection in the mirror. His clown face remains, and the viewer is left with the impression that he will be a clown - and probably a sociopath or criminal - for the rest of his life.
This film manages to be funny, sad, touching, and scary - and definitely food for thought. It reminds me of a gentler time when schools actually cared about the psychological well-being of students.
I myself had two wonderful, progressive teachers. One believed in deep relaxation hypnosis in the classroom, while the other was a master of behavior psychology who was a great motivator and builder of self esteem. Both these teachers also believed in teaching kids self-empowerment while at the same time, teaching the value of compassion and kindess toward others - no religion required.
Above all, teachers in the 1970s often asked students, "How are you feeling today?" and were there to listen and to help. Nowadays, the schools are underfunded, the classrooms are overcrowded, the teachers are barely qualified, and competition is more valued than creativity.
Worst of all is that violence and depression have become epidemics among school children of all ages, and it seems that the only solution to these problems lies in a bottle of prescription medication.
Maybe if the concepts behind If Mirrors Could Talk were still taught to children at a young age, they wouldn't need to be drugged and they wouldn't end up committing suicide or shooting up their schools.
Subject: Be a clownÂ
An actually entertaining look at kids immaturity with other people and themselves. Narrated by the most annoying kid imaginable John perks up the INSTANT we see him, which is quite funny, and lays it on us about 3 kids in the class, Robbie, the sad clown, who doesnÂt listen and shies away from everything. George, who takes pride in damaging everyoneÂs self esteem, and Laurie, who is self centered and doesnÂt really care whether she gets caught doing anything or not (maybe because the cafeteria workers are so laughably passive). John wonders what can be done about these clowns, and then a talking mirror shows up to bug these clowns into submission. ItÂs not known whether John put this here, but if he did, then.. that.. scares me. John the talking mirror tries to change the kids around, he succeeds with some but not with others, which makes it a refreshing twist, not everyone falls for the stupid talking mirror trick!
Subject: Not as good as it could have been...
When I saw the description promising to show three kids who act like clowns and, by extension, look like clowns I was excited and clicking download in nervous haste. The movie was actually not bad for what it attempts to do: teach kids to reflect upon their behavior around others. My problem is my expectations; I really was hoping to see some really great (Read: cringe-worthy) moments. What I got was a movie that showed some kids acting like brats, and then being addressed by themselves in a magic mirror. The behavior the kids exhibit in the early parts of the film is funny, but not fall-out-of-your-seat funny; more like a milder humor.
The film analyses three class clowns. The first example of a "clown" analysed in the movie is a kid who is essentially shyer than anybody I have ever encountered in my lifetime. The second is a rather precocious little girl who screams to get attention and sometimes cheats on tests by copying off the test papers of her classmates. The third is this heavy boy who seems to exhibit at least four of Dr. Phil's seven signs of a future serial killer. Two of these kids learn to change and quickly adapt by conforming to the expectations of the class, one kid (you have two guesses) doesn't give a darn that he is a clown to others and decides to continue his life as a clown.... and that boy grew up to be Violent Jay from the Insane Clown Posse... actually, he doesn't... and this movie doesn't really entertain in the ways that clowns are often though to entertain.
This film is worth watching because of the old 70's clothing and the brief odd moments of misbehavior exhibited by the three children.